High Blood Pressure

Recently a family member called me asking about natural suggestions for his high blood pressure.

The first thing we talked about was potassium. The majority of Americans don’t get enough potassium, and low potassium is very closely associated with high blood pressure. (One VERY important note here is that low potassium can slow down metabolism of glucose, leading to high blood sugar. Diabetes is on the rise in the U.S., and low potassium could very well be a contributing factor.) In order to increase your dietary potassium it is necessary to reduce sodium intake. Good potassium containing foods include: spinach, parsley, mustard greens, lettuce, broccoli, peas, tomatoes. Potatoes with the skin are a good source of potassium, as well. Citrus fruits, bananas, apples, avocados, apricots and raisins are also great sources of dietary potassium. Fish such as flounder, salmon, and cod contain potassium, as do most nuts. The most important thing to remember is that processing drastically decreases the amount of potassium in a food. So, for example, canned spinach, or canned salmon will not contain anywhere close the the level of potassium as does fresh. Also, sodium and potassium compete in the body. Because of the developmental conditions of early man, the body tends to hold on to sodium, and flush potassium. Current recommendations are to consume 2 times MORE potassium than sodium. Most American’s consume the opposite.

Magnesium can also be helpful in lowering blood pressure. Magnesium is, essentially a mineral that relaxes the body.

Sometimes practitioners suggest flush-niacin for people with high blood pressure. Flush-niacin is the type of niacin that causes your face, and sometimes arms, to feel hot and “flushed” when you take it. This effect happens because the niacin caused blood vessels to dilate, or open, allowing blood to flow more freely. It very much can lower blood pressure. Flush niacin is also an effective vitamin to take if you are trying to help your body detoxify. That said, I do NOT recommend flush niacin if you have any underlying medical conditions.

Garlic is my all-around favorite herb. It’s useful for a wide variety of things. Including high blood pressure. To get the best effect eat at least one clove of raw garlic a day, and add garlic to your cooking every chance you get. There have been studies showing that raw garlic is as effective at lowering blood pressure as some pharmaceuticals. It’s likely that you’ll need to eat more than one raw clove each day. I do this by cutting the cloves into quarters. This allows me to swallow the garlic with minimal contact with my tongue. You’ll need to experiment to find the best amount of raw garlic for your needs.

Stress contributes to high blood pressure. Kava kava is an excellent stress relieving herb. It’s readily available in most grocery stores as a tea.

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